Relief All Night Long as Saints Pitching Dominates in 4-1 Victory over T-Bones
KANSAS CITY, KS - Neither team had a starter on Friday night at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Both team were forced to start a reliever and the St. Paul Saints bullpen proved worthy of the challenge facing the second best offense in the league, the Kansas City T-Bones. Jake Matthys was brilliant in his 5.0 innings of work and his bullpen mates did the rest as the Saints defeated the T-Bones 4-1. The win was the Saints fifth in a row and improved their record to 30-23, maintaining a 1.0 game lead in the North Division.
Matthys was making his first start of the season and his third in his two year career. In the first inning he gave up a leadoff single to Dylan Tice, but retired the next three hitters and left Tice stranded at third.
Matthys didn't allow another hit until the fifth when his team was leading 3-0. Former Saint Noah Perio Jr. doubled to right-center with one out. Matthys got Taylor Featherston on strikes, but Adrien Nieto roped an RBI double to right making it 3-1. It was the lone blemish on a dazzling night by Matthys. He went 5.0 innings allowing one run on three hits while walking one and striking out three.
The bullpen picked it up from there. Ryan Schlosser pitched a perfect sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh. With the Saints leading 4-1 Schlosser walked the leadoff man Nick Torres. Colin Walsh then hit a fly ball to left-center that dropped in for a double putting runners at second and third. Schlosser left the game for left-hander Ken Frosch. He got the lefty Noah Perio Jr. to pop out. It was the lone batter Frosch faced and he extended his scoreless streak to 21.1 innings pitched, tying the second longest scoreless streak in franchise history with Matt Meyer (2010). The longest streak is 29.2 innings set by Caleb Thielbar in 2011. Mike Devine took over and got Taylor Featherston to hit a grounder to Dante Bichette Jr. at third. He threw home to get Torres for the second out of the inning. With two outs and runners at the corners Featherston tried to steal second, but Justin O'Conner threw him out to end the inning.
In the eighth Devine walked the leadoff man Nieto and Keith Curcio followed with a single to center. Devine got back-to-back strikeouts of Tice (.362) and Mason Davis (.361). Then an unusual play occurred when O'Conner tried to back pick Nieto at second, but wound up hitting the bat of Todd Cunningham. The ball ricocheted into foul territory, on the third base side, allowing the runners to advance. It didn't matter, however, as Devine retired the .396 hitting Cunningham on a fly out to center.
Zack Jones closed out the ninth by getting two fly outs and a strikeout to pick up his third save of the season. The bullpen went 4.0 shutout innings allowing two hits while walking two and striking out four.
The Saints got all the offense they needed in the third when O'Conner led off with a single. Bichette Jr. then crushed a two-run homer to straightaway center, his third of the season, to give the Saints a 2-0 lead. Anthony Phillips followed with a single and Max Murphy walked. A sacrifice by Kyle Barrett moved the runners up and a wild pitch scored Phillips to make it 3-0.
The Saints added their final run in the sixth when Brady Shoemaker walked and moved to second on a single by Zach Walters. With one out O'Conner walked to load the bases and Bichette Jr. added his third RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly. Bichette Jr. finished the night 2-3 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored.
The same two teams meet in game three of the four game series on Saturday nigh at CommunityAmerica Ballpark at 7:05 p.m. The Saints send RHP Ryan Zimmerman (1-0, 3.72) to the mound against T-Bones RHP Astin Barrett (6-2, 5.27). The game can be heard on Alt 93.3 FM.
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